Hi! I'm Sydney, a stay-at-home mom of three, and I make homemade meals for my Colorado family every week.
Each weekend, I plan all my family's meals for the upcoming week. This includes choosing the recipes I will make — via the internet and cookbooks — plus the actual shopping. I cook pretty much every meal every day due to a severe peanut allergy in my household. We don't rely on much takeout for this reason.
When planning each week, I start by looking at my local grocery store's weekly sales so I know what items will get me the most bang for my buck. Due to rising food costs and inflation, this first step has become more important than ever to my planning and budgeting lately.
With meal planning, up-front preparation is key — but it's also the most challenging thing. Here are a few tips and tricks that I use each week:
1) I pick recipes with ingredients that can be used for multiple meals (and in multiple ways). This also includes getting creative with leftovers. Sometimes eating leftovers all the time can get old, but I try to remember that I can always use different components of my leftovers to create new meals.
2) I prioritize what's on sale. For example, this week I was able to find two rotisserie chickens for $10 — and much of my produce was on sale.
3) I buy the cheapest store brand most of the time. Unless it's something that I'm unable to use due to the peanut allergy, an item I absolutely love (or if a different brand is on sale), store brand it is.
4) I ask my kids to help me! Feeding kids is a challenge. They change their minds constantly, and they seemingly get new taste buds every meal. When I ask them to help pick out recipes (usually with them looking at pictures), I find that they are more excited to eat them.